This was one gorgeous day to be in the mountains.
I spent last weekend working and next weekend's weather does not look to
be very promising. With that in mind I decided to take advantage of the sun
this day to get to a high viewpoint. I was anxious to see the first dusting
of snow on the mountain tops this season. I put in a half day of work and
headed out of town at 10:25. By 11:20 I was at the Pratt trailhead. There
were 8 or 9 cars in the lot. I was not the only one taking advantage of a
sunny Wednesday. It was clear and cold in the morning and it was still a
bit chilly at 11:30. As I hiked up the trail I warmed up quickly. About a
mile and a half up the trail I stopped to take off my long sleeve polypro
and my convertible pants legs. Only four days away from November and it felt
like August. There was absolutely no wind and it did not change all day.
This trail is a good workout as it gains 3800' over 4 1/2 miles. Soon the
trail will be snow covered and the route will be straight up the last few
I passed one couple who had been to the top. It would have been great
to have had early morning light. It was very bright out by this time. At
about 3800' I reached the first traces of snow. Soon some more was in shady
spots while it was still bare in the sun. The trail began the long traverse
to the east. I reached the huckleberry bushes and they had neither berries
nor leaves. I came upon a lone mountain ash with bright red berries. Be the
time I neared the small tarns the trail was mostly snow covered. I could
now see farther to the east. Rampart Ridge was highlighted by a dusting of
fresh snow. Mt. Rainier came into sight but the bright sun, low on the horizon,
made it difficult to see. I did have a good view of the lookout before it
hid behind the ridge again.
I passed two women coming down who mentioned there were four more hikers
ahead of me. It looked like I would have a beaten down path to the summit.
The snow was a bit sloppy and I slowed down a little to keep from falling
on my behind. After a beautiful summer of hiking it was nice to be back
on snow again. After a short climb the trail reached the meadow below the
lookout. By now the snow was 4-5" deep. The trailblazers had managed to stay
on the summer trail making it easy to ascend. Kaleetan came into view with
a nice blanket of white cloaking the summit. Higher up I could see down
to Tuscohatchie Lake and then Crystal Lake. Neither one had any snow on
it. The Cascade crest came into view as well. I could see Chikamin and Lemah
Two groups passed me on their way down as I neared the summit. Once
on top I found Peter to be the only hiker left. He was basking in the sun
and I quickly dropped my pack nearby. The mountains looked so much better
with a coating of white. Glacier Peak was clear to the north and Mt. Adams
was partly in the only cloud in the sky. Even the Olympic Mountains were
clearly visible to the west. Seemingly as always, I had a clear view of Mt.
Stuart. The continued lack of any wind made it very comfortable on the summit.
The lookout is all closed up for the winter. It took me just under 2 1/2
hours coming up. It was still early enough to spend lots of time on top.
Peter soon headed down and I was alone. Not long after, Amar arrived. He
is a serious volcano skier and major contributor to the "Turns All Year"
web site. I find it to be a great resource for getting updated information
on snow conditions in the spring. It makes judging spring scramble conditions
much easier. Amar skis most every month of the year.
When two more hikers arrived it was time for me to start down. I had
spent nearly an hour on the summit. I took out my poles and put on gaiters
and took off. The snow had softened greatly in the time I was on top. It
was slushy enough that the gaiters were very useful. I took my time at first
as there were still many photos to take. By the time I reached the meadow
I had already passed 3 groups coming up. It was 3:30 back at the tarn and
more groups were coming up. It looked like at least a few would need headlamps
coming down. The rest of the way down was vintage late summer hiking. It
was warm. I know it will be at least 5 months until I have another shorts
and short sleeve hike. Oh well, after this day it's time to bring on the
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2004